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Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

Cantata BWV 132
Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!
Discussions - Part 3

Continue from Part 2

Discussions in the Week of February 1, 2009

William Hoffman wrote (February 3, 2009):
Cantata 132: Fugitive Notes & Franck

ADVENT 4: 132, Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn! [SATB Solo]. 12/22/15
Sources: (1) score, dated 1715 (SPK P.60, CPEB), (2) 1 part (cb, SPK St. 5, CPEB), (2) parts set (lost, ?WFB).
Literature: BG XVIII (Rust 1881), NBA KB I/1, 98 ff (Dürr, 1955); min. score, Bärenreiter (Dürr 1956); Whittaker I:90-93; Robertson 7f, Daw 66f; Young18 f; Cantatas Dürr 86-89
Text: #1-5, S. Franck 1715; #2, Is. 40:3, John 1:23; #3, John 1:19; #5, Rev. 6:11; #6, Crusiger cle. "Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn" ("Lord Christ, the Only Son of God") (S. 8).
Gospel, John 1: 19-28 (John the Baptist's Message [Isaiah's Prophecy, 40:3]); Epistle, Phil. 4: 4-7 (God be with you).
Forces: SATB, 4 vv, ob, str, bc.
Movements: 3 arias, (S, B, A), 2 recits. (T, A), chorale.
1. Aria (S, tutti): Prepare the way, prepare the course.
2. Rec.-aso. (T): Wilt thou...God's child...call?
3. Aria (B, vc): Who are thou?
4. Rec. (A, str): I will, my God, Thee freely acknowledge.
5. Aria (A, vn): ...consider what the Savior to you gave.
6. Cle. (tutti): Mortify us through thy goodness (music lost, poss. BWV 164/6, Tr. 13, 8/26/25).

Bach-Franck collaboration:

[Dürr Cantatas: Chamber music scoring Bach favored in 1715; Libretto, Neumeister Type II, with chorale; Franck libretto 1714-15 cycle.] This Franck cycle provided Bach with virtually all of his cantata texts set to music in 1715 and 1716, except for the final three, Advent 2-4, BWV 70a, BWV 186a, BWV 147a (Franck pub. 1717). Evidence shows that Bach's monthly effort over two years yielded 12 new works (BWV 152, BWV 72, BWV 31, BWV Anh. 191; BWV 165, BWV 185, BWV 163, BWV 132, BWV 155, BWV 80a, BWV 161, BWV 162), as many as four possible repeats in 1716 (BWV 31, BWV Anh. 191, BWV 165 and BWV 185), with possibly older versions of BWV 168 and BWV 164. The public mourning period for Prince Johann Ernst, August 11 to November 9, 1715, preempted four monthly cantatas for Eighth, 12th, 16th and 20th Sundays after Trinity.

Bach probably met Franck when he was briefly employed by the Weimar Court, January to August 1703 as a court lackey (servant) and court musician in the private capelle of Duke Johann Ernst. Franck (1659-1725). Franck had assumed his Weimar post as Consistory Secretary in 1701 until his death. In July 1708 Bach moved to Weimar as chamber musician (violinist, ?violist) and court organist. Although Bach had recently stated his goal of composing well-regulated church music, the so-called Neumeister-type of Italian cantata libretto was not published until 1711 by both Neumeister and Lehms. The old style of concerto-aria set to biblical, chorale or strophic verse was gradually replaced by madrigalian (non-strophic, lyrical) texts for choruses, arias, and later recitatives.

Franck's first recorded madrigalian libretto was a milestone collaboration in 1713, involving him and Bach, Hunting Cantata BWV 208. Its 15 movements included Bach's first da-capo choruses and arias with the first dance influences of pastorale and gigue, as well as his first recitative. It also was scored for a large orchestra of pairs of horns, recorders, and oboes as well as oboe da-caccia (taille), bassoon, strings, and basso continuo. That make-up is virtually the same as Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 and an opening sinfonia, BWV 1046a=1071, probably was an early version of the opening Allegro.

Dürr in Cantatas (p.15) calls Franck "perhaps the most gifted and original poetic talent with whom Bach collaborated", "Formally as skillful as Neumeister," with a "rich vein fantasy and depth of feeling Neumeister lacked" and "mystical traits" linked to Pietism.

Jane Newble wrote (February 3, 2009):
Cantata 132

Yesterday I listened to Koopman [6] and Richter [3].

The difference, apart from speed was noticable in several ways.

In the bass aria the beauiful cello is very strong in Koopman [6], but Richter's organ [3] does away with that, and the sound is completely different.

Another marked difference: In the alto recitative in Koopman [6], there is an almost human sob in the music after "...Taufbund ist gebrochen..", but not in Richter [3]. (I shall have to find the score to see what is there).

Just a few observations.

Chris Kern wrote (February 3, 2009):
Intro for BWV 132

Introduction to BWV 132 - "Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!"

Discussion for the week of February 1, 2009

Date of first performance: December 22, 1715 (4th Sunday of Advent)

Information about recordings, biblical readings, translations, etc: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV132.htm

Music example (Leusink [8]): http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Stream/BWV132-Leusink.ram

Our final Advent Cantata is for the week before Christmas. It's a Weimar cantata (once again, Leipzig had no cantatas during Advent after the first week). The lyrics continue the theme of awaiting the coming of the Messiah, who will soon be born. This cantata has no opening choral movement. The last movement has only the chorale indicated with no music, so editors and performers have to borrow the music of the chorale from one of Bach's other settings. According to Whittaker, the libertto exhibits a "mixture of flat platitudes and reasonably poetic verses".

The soprano aria that opens the piece is very good, with an obligatto oboe accompaniment. I especially like Harnoncourt's version; the slow tempo coupled with the superb boy soprano make it an enchanting experience.

The bass aria is for continuo/unison strings and asks the congregation to admit their sins, although the first line is from the Gospel reading ("Who art thou?" addressed from the priest to John).

The alto aria is also high quality, with a lovely obligatto violin in a minor key.

Sorry for the lateness and the shortness of this; this academic quarter is more busy than I thought it would be. This is (luckily) the end of my section; now we'll move on to Christmas.

William Hoffman wrote (February 3, 2009):
Cantata 132: More Franck

During this formative period at the beginning of the second decade of the 1700s, Bach cautiously sought librettos and created proto cantatas which would be expanded and transformed in Weimar and in Leipzig. Some still used biblical verses with new lyric texts and Bach's first four-part plain chorales began to close these church pieces. Meanwhile, other German colleagues (Telemann, Stölzel, Graupner) took up the challenge and composed new, "reform" sacred cantata cycles based on Neumeister and Lehms.

Interestingly, Bach rarely used the word cantata, preferring motet or concerto. These works dating from about 1712 include Cantatas BWV 21a (Franck), BWV 143 (Bible) , BWV 63a (Heineccius), BWV 54 and BWV 199a (Lehms), and BWV 18 (Neumeister). Often, they originally were written for general use, "per ogni tempo" or for anytime. Eventually they became part of Bach's "well-regulated church music to the glory of God."

In particular, two proto cantatas underwent major transformation. Cantata BWV 63, "Christen, ätzet diesen Tag" (Christians, engrave this day) in its final form was composed for Christmas Day in Weimar and Leipzig. Cantata BWV 21, "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis" (My heart was deeply troubled) variously utilized as a probe piece, a farewell, and finally in Bach's church canon for the Third Sunday after Trinity, score dated "1714." Both works are models of cantata composition, with large instrumental ensembles and memorable movements.

As he would in Leipzig composing three church cantata cycle, Bach struggled to find unified, competent, engaging libretti which also addressed the Gospel and Epistle readings for appropriate church service. The other major unifying element was the four-part chorale or hymn, which first appeared in Cantata BWV 18, Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt (For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven).

Bach continued his search for effective librettos. As the new Weimar Court concermeister,Bach began his first effort at well-regulated church music, for Palm Sunday 1714, with Cantata BWV 182. Charged with composing church pieces every fourth Sunday, he initially used unpublished libretti later attributed to Salamo Frank, the court poet. They are the "transitional type," without recitative biblical verse. From March to June, Bach presented four monthly works in succession: Cantatas BWV 182, BWV 12 (Jubilate), BWV 172 (Pentecost), and BWV 63 (3rd Sunday after Trinity), the last a revival. For July and August, Bach turned to cantatas based on established libretti of Lehms (1711): BWV Anh. 209 or BWV 54 in July (7th Sunday after Trinity) and BWV 199a (11th Sunday after Trinity. Two of these were revivals, BWV 54 and BWV 199a; Only the libretto survives for BWV Anh. 209.

For the next three months, September to November, no cantata performance is recorded. It is possible that Bach, as he sought a unified libretto cycle, inserted existing Cantatas BWV 21 and BWV 63 (for anytime) into the appropriate service, the 15th and 19th Sundays after Trinity. For the scheduled 23rd Sunday after Trinity, Bach may have used the initial version of Cantata BWV 163, which he presented a year later on the same date. This cantata has a text by Franck from his 1715 published cycle.

Bach began the church year on Advent Sunday, December 2, 1714, still on his four-week Service schedule,with Cantata BWV 61, "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland I" (Now come, Saviour of the Gentiles), new libretto written by Neumeister (1714). For the Sunday after Christmas, Bach preseted Cantata BWV 152. Then he started his two-year collaboration with Franck, composing some 12 cantatas to the libretti cycle published in 1715, followed by the three weekly Advent cantatas, BWV 70a, BWV 186a, and BWV 147a.

Jean Laaninen wrote (February 3, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< ...Interestingly, Bach rarely used the word cantata, preferring motet or concerto. These works dating from about 1712 include Cantatas BWV 21a (Franck), BWV 143 (Bible), BWV 63a (Heineccius), BWV 54 and BWV 199a (Lehms), and BWV 18 (Neumeister). Often, they originally were written for general use, "per ogni tempo" or for anytime. Eventually they became part of Bach's "well-regulated church music to the glory of God." >
A number of years ago I used Chafe (Analyzing Bach Cantatas) as a textbook in my Baroque Music Theory class at ASU, and a few days ago I took my copy and had it spiral bound for slower easier study. Chafe is not an easy read unless one understands his central thesis of his understanding of the purpose of the cantatas, and somehow I had glossed over that aspect as a student, rather seeking for some supporting points for my final paper which was a full cantata analysis. But in his introduction to his text, he makes clear the point that the cantatas were written as a bridge between scripture and faith. This, it seems to me is something that supports my experience as a text first person, who heard Bach even in infancy and thereby have such a strong association with the cantatas as a church musical medium. This does not mean, however, that I have any reservations about the way each individual may come to listening to the cantatas, but only that it is inevitable that one who is raised in this environment will make associations historically/contextually from the start. The methods of deconstruction, which I have also learned to use are also practical.

Not, however, was I raised so thoroughly Lutheran that I do not appreciate other perspectives and this year and last I have been studying the discipline of Navajo philosophy. One of the principles of this world-view is that all things are somehow connected. When I think of the cantatas, connections not apparent to a casual or quick read of the texts might not make total sense, and often raise questions of why would Bach do this or that...but for the individual steeped in Lutheranism there are connections.

When I think about the "well-regulated church music to the glory of God", as mentioned above by William, I find the approach of Chafe to have considerable merit. If one looks at the matter of the whole of scripture being connected in various ways, in the sacred cantatas some leaps in material seem strange. But for the individual raised in such an environment (bridges made between scripture and faith) some diverse aspects are not so peculiar. That is why I have said without fully reasoning it out, why there is some advantage to having been raiLutheran in regard to the cantatas. This is not an offense, however, to people with different backgrounds.

I think of the topic that has come up regarding Bach including the 'Turks' one cantata--an issue that seems very strange to many people. I don't know the history in full detail here, but it occurred to me that if the cantata is a matter between scripture and faith, that the political could over-lap the sacred as a matter of the desire for safety and survival. I don't plan to debate this point with anyone, but in starting to read Chafe again, I am impressed at how Bach carried through in his assignment to bridge the gaps musically between the written word and what people had to live out through belief in his time. I find this historically relevant.

William Hoffman wrote (February 4, 2009):
Cantata 132: Bridging Gaps

Jean Laaninen wrote:
< . . . in starting to read Chafe again, I am impressed at how Bach carried through in his assignment to bridge the gaps musically between the written word and what people had to live out through belief in his time. I find this historically relevant. >
--- William Hoffman replies: I think Eric Chafe is an important, younger, English-speaking scholar who brings an important if somewhat academic and spiritually-oriented perspective to the Bach conversation.

Whether it is he, Michael Marrissen, Stephen Crist, Daniel Melamed, George Stauffer, or other Young Turks (has anyone ever met an Old Turk or Angry Old Man?), collectively they help us to better understand Bach's world in all its facets, musical and non-musical. Now, we are able to challenge rigid yet well-meaning 19th century assumptions and methodology, especially Bach's spirituality, which has been both a boon and a burden to historically- (not hysterically-) informed interpretation.

I also think that BCW is the most significant, on-going, diverse forum of independent Bach scholars, students, enthusiasts, amateurs, baggage-handlers, opinion-ates, GDIs, and loyalists. I am especially aware of this as I read through various essays and BCW discussions and articles on the Great SMP (BWV 244). There is something for everyone, a moveable feast. Right now, I'm working on SMP (BWV 244) topics involving genesis, spiritual sources, transformation, and provenance. They're ALL connected in such a monumental piece where genius takes its full measure and we can taste it. For me, it's all about bridging gaps and connecting dots

As I have said before in my best 1960s revolutionary spirit: "Let it all hang out!" No exceptions -- so far!

Jean Laaninen wrote (February 4, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< Right now, I'm working on SMP (BWV 244) topics involving genesis, spiritual sources, transformation, and provenance. They're ALL connected in such a monumental piece where genius takes its full measure and we can taste it. For me, it's all about bridging gaps and connecting dots As I have said before in my best 1960s revolutionary spirit: "Let it all hang out!" No exceptions -- so far! >
Sounds great! Thanks for the additional commentary.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (February 4, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote:
< During this formative period at the beginning of the second decade of the 1700s, Bach cautiously sought librettos and created proto cantatas which would be expanded and transformed in Weimar and in Leipzig. Some still used biblical verses with new lyric texts and Bach's first four-part plain chorales began to close these
church pieces. Meanwhile, other German colleagues (
Telemann, Stölzel, Graupner) took up the challenge and composed new, "reform" sacred cantata cycles based on Neumeister and Lehms. >
More than likely it was Telemann who put cantata cycle texts into Bach's curious hands. The first people to have written in the reform style were J. Ph. Krieger of Weissenfels, Telemann (then at Eisenach around 1710) and Schuermann at Meiningen. Graupner started shortly afterwards, with Stölzel and Fasch undertaking cantata cycles much later.

Neil Halliday wrote (February 5, 2009):
OT: Dawn Upshaw

One of my favourite soprano voices.

I wonder what she would make of the lovely opening aria (Mvt. 1) of BWV 132.

Here she is in Handel's Theodora (scroll to the bottom): http://www.aco.com.au/Default.aspx?url=/upshaw

Handel, the old bugger, knew how to express human suffering!

Neil Halliday wrote (February 6, 2009):
The BGA does not specify the instruments at the beginning of the staves, but I presume the upper continuo line in the first movement is for bassoon, whereas the upper continuo line in the bass aria is for cello. The oboe in the first movement, as pointed out in the OCC, is likely an oboe d'amore (in A, hence written in C).

I like Richter's recording [3]; even Mathis, minimising vibrato on the long coloratura passages (on "Bahn") is acceptable.

Richter [3] makes lovely music out of the secco-arioso Mvt. 2.

Koopman [6] highlights the cello in the bass aria (Mvt. 3), whereas Richter [3] highlights an engaging organ part. As Robertson points out "In this aria, the question 'Who art thou' is not the one addressed to John the Baptist by the Jews, as before, but to the Christian conscience, and ....to the listening congregation." Robertson also mentions the long and tortuous phrase accompanying the word "hypocritcal".

The lovely string harmonies of the accompanied recitative (Mvt. 4) express anguish and contrition; note the successive diminished 7th chords at "ah, but ah (baptism's bond is broken)."

The imagery of the crimson, purple and white silk of the baptised Christians' finery (robes) , in the alto aria (Mvt. 5), is notable, with a longheld note on "Staat" (finery).

Mallon's OVPP [9] final chorale is (Mvt. 6) lovely; perhaps these "plain" 4-part chorales work well in OVPP because the 4 voices sing simultaneously in every bar, doubled by the instruments.

William Hoffman wrote (February 8, 2009):
Cantata 132: Fugitive Notes

In the three years in Weimar in which Bach presented cantatas once a month, on the fourth successive Sunday, he made a significant beginning to meeting his goal of a well-regulated church music. A rough accounting shows that Bach composed as many as 23 works during this period, 21 of which were revived in Weimar. Only BWV 132 and BWV 54 were not presented later. Cantata BWV 132 has a text by Salomo Franck clearly tailored for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, based on the readings for this Sunday.

Further, Bach commissioned Franck in late 1716 to write a new annual cycle of cantata librettos. In December Bach was able to set cantatas for the other three Sundays in the Advent season, the beginning of the church year, including a second work, for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, BWV 147a, now known in its expanded Leipzig form as "Jesu, Jof Man's Desiring," for the Feast of the Visitation.

The biblical key to the Fourth Sunday in Advent is the Gospel lesson, John 1: 19-28, "John the Baptist's Message," which is a reference to Isaiah's Prophecy, 40:3, of the coming of the Messiah. Franck's paraphrase in the second movement, a tenor recitative, is:Meanwhile my heart prepare; this very day; the path of faith for the Lord; and clear out of the way the hills and the heights; which stand in his way! (Francis Browne, August 2008.)

A quarter century later, Georg Frideric set the definitive treatment of Isaiah's Prophecy in "The Messiah," his three-part oratorio about Christ's coming, death, and resurrection.

Why didn't Bach alter this lovely, intimate Cantata BWV 132 for use in Leipzig? He would have had to rewrite Franck's Advent-rooted text with references in the opening chorus to preparing the way, the Messiah is coming; the evangelist's prophecy; John the Baptist's bass Gospel aria railing against hypocrites; the alto's paired recitative and aria about the baptism initiation; and the closing chorale Revelation reference to allowing the "new man" to live.

Theoretically, Bach could best have used much of the Franck-texted material in a cantata for the Advent-related Feast of John the Baptist, June 26. Fortunately, Bach already had an appropriate text for that service (BWV 167) just after taking up his post in Leipzig in late May 1723. The next year, Bach set a popular service chorale for one of his first chorale cantatas, BWV 7, in the second cycle.

The calculating, systematic Sebastian, in his next possible John the Baptist settings, chose a readily-available Johann Ludwig Bach Cantata JLB-17 for his third cycle in 1726. Interestingly, Picander's 1728-29 cycle (Bach's ?Fourth Cycle) contains no text for this feast day, the only service in the Leipzig church year to be omitted from Henrici's 61 settings!

Obviously, Bach the Borrower kept Cantata BWV 132 handy for use in Leipzig. He could have used it with virtually no text change for the First Sunday in Advent. This Telemann did with his Frankfurt and Eisanach cantatas for Advent Sundays recycled in Hamburg, such as BWV 141, presented on the First Sunday in Advent, 1727. Bach could have used BWV 132 to inaugurate his third cycle on Advent Sunday, December 2, 1725, or for any Advent Sunday Festival in his final two decades in Weimar.

Meanwhile, Bach still had to set Zechariah's canticle prophecy, Luke 1:57-80, for the Feast of John the Baptist. This Bach did in his parody of the dancing progressive drama per musica, Cantata BWV 30, after 1738, to a sacred text by Picander.

In 1750, son Carl Philipp Emanuel inherited the score of BWV 132, as well as BWV 30. A listing of BWV 132 appears in his 1789 estate catalog for the 4th Sunday in Advent.

William Hoffman wrote (February 9, 2009):
BWV 132: More Franck (belated)

A special note of thanks to Thomas Braatz for his exemplary BCW Article, Bach's Weimar Cantatas," without which, my inspired "musings and meanderings" would be impossible.

John Pike wrote (February 10, 2009):
William Hoffman wrote [Fugitive Notes]:
< In the three years in Weimar in which Bach presented cantatas once a month, on the fourth successive Sunday, he made a significant beginning to meeting his goal of a well-regulated church music. A rough accounting shows that Bach composed as many as 23 works during this period, 21 of which were revived in Weimar. Only BWV 132 and 54 were not presented later. >
I suspect this should read: "21 of which were revived in Leipzig".

I found it very interesting that Bach did not revive such a superlatively good cantata as BWV 54 " Widerstehe doch der Sünde" in Leipzig. Why should this be? Then I recalled hearing several reconstructions of the lost St Mark Passion which do indeed use music from BWV 54. Perhaps, then, in a sense, Bach did make alternative good use of this excellent material in Leipzig. How strong is the case for using BWV 54/1 in reconstructions of the St Mark P? Is it as good as for BWV 198?

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Cantata BWV 54 - Discussions Part 4

Peter Smaill wrote (February 11, 2009):
[To John Pike] An interesting question; why did Bach not revive the superlative "Wiederstehe doch der Suende" , BWV 54, in Leipzig.

The answer is that this Cantata was composed for a Sunday in Lent. The text is purely penitential, unusually suggesting the semi-Pelagian idea of justification through resistance to sin. This theological tendency is also found in most of the texts in the third cycle derived from the Court at Meiningen. Taken together all these works have scant reference to the generally dominant theology of the Cantatas, namely, salvation by faith alone .It perhaps suprising that superintendent Deyling who according to rochlitz vetted the texts let the Meiningen collection through.

The primary reason for thr absence of a repeat performance of BWV 54 is that Leipzig did not permit Cantatas in Lent; there would have been no possibility of performing the work on its allotted date. Despite all the parody process in Bach , I find him punctilious in retaining and redesigning works but only for the same date of the Church calendar, the exception being the few Cantatas which are deliberately marked per ogni tempore, such as BWV 71.

It can indeed be argued that Bach did indeed very much regret the inability to hear the wonderful BWV 54 with its amazing dissonant entry chord, for the reconstructions of the St Mark Passion (BWV 247) I believe all use the first movement since the scansion of the Passion text suggests this may well have been the parody source. This is (correct me someone if my memeory is faulty on this) even true of Ton Koopman who doubts BWV 198 is the source for the Passion because of the octave writing. As previously suggested the writing at the octave in the St Matthew suggests the fusion of Father and Son in the Crucifixion based on baroque tonal symbolism and for this reason the use of BWV 198 is particularly appropriate in hermeneutical terms. I don't think Koopman's pastiche, though interesting in its own right, has disturbed the preexisiting scholarship. It is thus probable but not proven that BWV 54 and BWV 198 were sources for the St Mark Passion (BWV 247) in 1731.

John Pike wrote (February 11, 2009):
[To Peter Smaill] Many thanks, Peter. This is most interesting and a very good example of how an understanding of Bach's theology is important in understanding the music.

 

Cantata BWV 132: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movements | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Recordings & Discussions of Cantatas: Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Cantatas BWV Anh | Order of Discussion

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